Buffy Star Reveals Joss Whedon’s Angry Reaction To Spike’s Popularity

James Marsters as Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Things have not been looking good lately for Joss Whedon. Ray Fisher declared him to be abusive on the set of Justice League, and a stunt team from Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s early days similarly called him out for such behavior. Now, another Buffy alum, James Marsters, has spoken of a time when Whedon cornered and shouted at him because of his character Spike’s unexpected popularity.

Spike was introduced at the start of season 2 as a new big bad, and quickly established as even more of a quantifiable danger than the Master with the revelation that he had already fought and killed two Slayers. His story was seemingly over at the end of the season when he fled Sunnydale with his treacherous lover Drusilla, but later returned as first an antagonist, then later a reluctant ally and eventually became a hero and love interest to the eponymous heroine, a character growth to which Whedon was vehemently averse.

Marsters was speaking on Michael Rosenbaum’s podcast Inside of You, which features celebrity interviews from the perspective of someone with similar industry experiences, its informal nature often leading to conversations becoming highly personal and revealing. While speaking about one of Whedon’s rules for Buffy being that vampires are ugly inside and out and therefore not intended as romantic interests, he related an unpleasant interaction with the showrunner, saying:

“I came along and I wasn’t designed to be a romantic character, but then the audience reacted that way to it. And I remember he backed me up against a wall one day and he was just like, ‘I don’t care how popular you are, kid, you’re dead. You hear me? Dead. Dead!’ And I was just like, ‘Uh, you know, it’s your football, man. Okay’.”

It comes off like Whedon felt as though Marsters was doing too good a job in bringing Spike to life and in the process tainting his vision for the show, and as Marsters observed, remained apparently oblivious to the irony of actors only being able to work with material they’re given, all of which Whedon would have approved.

Personally, I’d have thought it would be a positive thing for an actor to elevate a creative’s writing to something greater than initially intended to the extent that audiences respond far more passionately than anticipated, but then again, I’m not a control freak showrunner of a major TV series, more’s the pity.

It doesn’t seem like Marsters is intentionally adding to the allegations about Joss Whedon’s on-set behavior while working on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but along with other tales coming to light of how he’s treated those he’s in charge of, it further erodes people’s opinions of someone they may have once held in high regard.